Sweepstakes Cafes Face Possible Ban

5:38 PM, Jun 18, 2010   |    comments
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High Point, NC - You see them on every corner.  They're called 'business centers', 'Sweepstakes cafes' and 'internet cafes'.  Right now these businesses are completely unregulated.  Which starts the whole argument:owners of the cafes want to be regulated, pay taxes and be left alone.  Others just want them gone. 

"Many people go in there on Friday and lose their whole paycheck," says Gary Grey, the director of the North Carolina Council on Problem Gambling.  "If they do, they don't do it here," argues Billy Corn, the owner of Strike Gold Cafe.  These two people couldn't disagree more over this issue.
"Most of these groups have seen about 88% of the people coming into Gamblers Anonymous rooms this year have all been internet casino addicted," explain Grey.
Corn understands, but doesn't agree with punishing everyone, "There are people that drink too much and do a lot of things in excess.  You are probably never going to stop that no matter what you do."
While they can't find common ground on whether or not to control the damage this game could possibly cause, they both agree on one thing: all of this happens without any state regulation.  The solution? Well, they don't agree on that either. 

"If regulating it would have worked it would have been done two or three years ago," says Grey.
Corn argues, "It's really no different from buying a 20 dollar lottery ticket and coming in here and putting 20 dollars on one of these sweepstakes machines. Except it's not regulated and it's not taxed, so lets tax it."

Instead the state Senate will vote on banning it completely.  An action Corn thinks will backfire, "They are going to do it anyway. It's just going to be black market and be a lot harder for people to regulate it. So let's regulate it, put it all above board, let the state of North Carolina know what we are doing, and lets be fair to all the people that is in the business today. 

Grey says he was in the Senate meeting Thursday and says everyone voted for the ban, except for two.  The Senate is expected to vote Monday, but it will still have to go through the House of Representatives. 


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